An advertising plan that involved throwing everything to the wall to see what sticks may have been an option in prior decades, but businesses will have to throw a huge amount of cash at advertising and marketing if they want to attempt to target everyone or even just the “average consumer.” And even then, nothing may stick.While averages are useful for discussing large populations, they can be lousy in marketing. If a product is aimed to help moms, should you market the product to all retail stores? Short answer: No. One of the first lessons in marketing is to define the target market and the descriptions can get fairly specific – a narrower market than “retail stores” would be teen clothing stores in Southern California.
Then within the narrow net of that target market, a business has its key customers. These are the 20% of customer’s that keep it afloat year in and year out — the company would drastically change if they disappeared. There are a few ways to identify key customers, and once they are defined, a plan should be created to keep them and attract more like them.
A Few Ways to Identify Key Customers
- Review your sales figures and find those customers that make up the largest accounts on your list. Note the similarities and differences between the two in terms of needs, complaints and compliments. What brings them together through your company?
- Consider the regular customers who can be counted on to keep coming back for a product or service time after time. By reviewing their accounts, you may be able to determine how exactly you fit into their organization, which gives an excellent window into similar businesses.
- Profitability can also be used to gauge who your key customers are – which customers give you a higher profit margin? Ideally, you would be marketing a product or service and prospecting new clients with a reasonable profit margin.
- Satisfied customers are the kind you want to replicate, so look through your records to see who gives you the most referrals and sings your praises to others the most often. They may even be able to act as a connection to other businesses in their field or area. Make sure all such past referrals have been followed up on before starting a new prospect list.
Key customers are the kind of customers that keep you in business; you can increase business profitability when you narrow down who these key accounts are. When you determine who they are, you then can focus on them in your marketing efforts. It can be difficult to find that balance between too general or too specific when drawing your key customer profile, as that will either make your audience too big or too small to market to frequently.
Once the key customers of a business are identified and described, a campaign to recognize them and make new offers to them. Develop a calendar to recognize events like birthdays, anniversaries and holidays are the obvious starting points, then add in special product releases, thank you gifts and other personalized offerings.
Develop a profile of these key customers and develop a Key Prospect list. For business to business marketing, aim for clients that are in a similar field as your current key clients – they likely have the same needs and there are certainly some that are not having those needs met to their satisfaction. This is how you can build your prospect list so you can focus on areas that will benefit them the most in the long run.
But what do you offer your new found prospective clients? You need to make them a valuable offer if you are looking to develop a long-term business relationship with these companies. Research any business you are about to prospect to see what their needs are, who they have worked with in the past and how you will be valuable to them. This will help you determine whether this company really fits your key customer profile before even setting up a meeting.
Business meetings are often more likely to happen if you already have a connection – reach out to your network to see if anyone can set up an introduction for you and your prospective client. If you don’t think you have anything to offer that will help their business bloom, either find out what else you can offer or move on to the next company on your prospect list. Keep them in mind for future endeavors.
Engaging your key customers will help your business thrive, take a few minutes to reach out to one of them right now because action creates success.